4/17 in Yankee History
1953: In the Yankees’ 7-3 win over the Senators at Griffith Stadium‚
Mickey Mantle clouts what is recognized by the Guinness Book of World
Records as the longest home run in MLB history‚ a 565-foot shot off
lefty Chuck Stobbs. The 5th inning blow‚ with Yogi Berra on first‚
clears the stadium in left center‚ just ticking off the huge Ballantine
scoreboard standing 60 feet higher than the grand stand bleachers. The
ball lands in the backyard of Perry Cool‚ whose house is a block away
from the ball park. The Mick adds a stolen base to his day’s total.
1951: Mickey Mantle makes his Yankee debut. Bob Sheppard also makes his
debut as the public address announcer at the Stadium, and will not miss
an opener at the venue until 2006.
Rain had cancelled yesterday’s presidential opener in Washington‚
washing out the debut of rookie Tom Morgan. Morgan would have been the
first Yankee rookie ever to start an opener. Clad in an army uniform‚
Whitey Ford tosses out the first pitch today at the Stadium‚ and Vic
Raschi scatters six singles to shut out the Red Sox‚ 5-0. Bill Wight
gives up all the Yankee runs‚ including a two-run homer to Jackie
Jensen in the 3rd inning. Mantle‚ playing his first regular season
game, before a crowd of 44‚860‚ has one hit and scores a run.
On other 17ths of April:
1965: In Kansas City‚ the Yanks top the A’s‚ 5-2‚ with all of New
York’s scoring coming via home runs. With NY ahead‚ 2-1‚ in the 8th‚
Roger Maris walks and Mickey Mantle follows with his 1st homer of the
1961: At the Stadium‚ 1‚947 fans brave a freezing rain to watch Whitey
Ford shut out Kansas City‚ 3-0. Mickey Mantle drives in all 3 Yankee
runs‚ including a solo shot off Jerry Walker in the first inning.
1957: At the Stadium‚ Mickey Mantle leads New York to a 3-1 win over
the Red Sox. Mantle hits his first homer of the year‚ off Tom Brewer.
Then when Pete Daley lines a ball off the wall in left center‚ Mantle
plays the carom perfectly and throws the runner out at second.
1956: President Eisenhower throws out the first ball in Washington -
actually two balls‚ both replicas of Spalding’s 1876 ball – and the
Yanks and Senators each hit 3 home runs, the only time this has
happened on Opening Day. Hitting from the left side, Mickey Mantle has
2 tape measure blasts of over 500 feet to dead center off Camilo
Pascual‚ as the Yanks win easily 10-4. Yogi Berra goes 4-for-4 with a
double and homer and 5 RBIs to ease the way for winner Don Larsen.
Pascual takes the loss. Karl Olson has two homers for Washington (the
only time in history a Senator went deep twice on opening day)‚ and
rookie Dick Tettelbach hits another‚ his only major league round
tripper. All but Mantle take advantage of the new shortened dimensions
of Griffith Stadium. For the third consecutive opener‚ President Dwight
D. Eisenhower throws out the first ball and stays a full 9 innings.
1945: Steady rain holds the crowd at Yankee Stadium to 13‚923 as Mayor
Fiorello LaGuardia throws out the first ball for the Opener against the
The Yanks’ lone score until the 7th inning is a homer by
rookie Russ Derry in the 3rd off Rex Cecil. Meanwhile the Red Sox jump
on Atley Donald for three runs in the 1st inning and another in the 7th
on Ben Steiner’s solo homer. But helped by four Boston errors‚ and
another homer by Russ Derry – this one a grand slam‚ New York push
across seven runs in the 7th frame to finish the scoring at 8-4. Sox
first baseman George Metkovich makes a ML record 3 errors in the inning
on a missed tag‚ an errant throw‚ and a fumble. Forty-one-year old Jim
Turner pitches the last two innings for New York.
1936: Lefty Grove and the Red Sox roll over the Yankees in the
pinstripers’ home opener‚ 8-0. A shivering crowd of 22‚256 are on hand
for the debacle. Grove pitches a masterful 2-hitter‚ with a pair of Lou
Gehrig singles as the only safeties for the home side.
1934: At Shibe Park‚ a crowd of less than 10‚000 watch the A’s open
against the Yankees. New York score first with two runs in the 5th
inning off starter Sugar Cain. The A’s take the lead in the 6th on Eric
McNair’s two-run homer off Lefty Gomez into the upper deck in left‚ but
the Yankees pull ahead 5-3 in the 8th. The A’s answer with one in the
8th‚ another in the 9th‚ and then‚ with two outs‚ a pinch single by
Bing Miller provides the winning run. Rookie Joe Cascarella‚ a native
Philadelphian‚ is the winner‚ while Harry Smythe is the losing pitcher.
Meanwhile, at the rebuilt Fenway Park‚ the Red Sox unveil the Green
Monster‚ the 18-foot concrete wall that replaces “Duffy’s Cliff‚” the
10-foot-incline named after early Boston star Hugh Duffy. Gone are the
wooden bleachers and wooden fences‚ and a warning track is in place for
the outfielders. (Editor’s note – this is important in Yankee history
because it gave Bucky Dent something to hit a home run over!)
1929: Babe Ruth and actress Claire Hodgson are married at 5 A.M. to
avoid crowds. The Yankee home opener with the Red Sox is again rained
out so the wedding party continues uninterrupted. It is the Bambino’s
1927: At New York‚ Lou Gehrig has 2 homers and a single to drive in 6
runs as the Yankees roll over the Red Sox‚ 14-2. Jack Tobin homers off
winner Waite Hoyt.
1925: With the newspaper headlines continuing to blare ‘The bellyache
heard round the world’‚ Babe Ruth undergoes surgery for an intestinal
1915: In a 9-1 Yankee win over Philadelphia‚ Fritz Maisel steals second, third, and home‚ though not in the same inning.